Ontario is set to introduce legislation that would make it easier for immigrants to obtain a license to work in occupations that match their areas of expertise.
Labor Minister Monte McNaughton says the proposed law, if passed, would bar many regulatory bodies from requiring immigrants to have Canadian work experience to be licensed.
It will also standardize English language testing requirements and ensure that licensing applications are processed expeditiously.
McNaughton says the changes will help remove the barriers immigrants often face trying to work in their businesses.
“It’s really an injustice when you consider that only 25 percent of immigrants in Ontario actually work in the jobs and occupations for which they were trained,” he said in an interview.
“It’s all about making their lives better, making sure they get bigger paychecks and more worker protections.”
McNaughton says Ontario is facing a labor shortage as about 293,000 jobs are vacant across the province.
The proposed law would apply to licensing bodies governing engineers, architects, teachers, accountants and social workers. But it will not affect the medical professions that license doctors and nurses.
The law will also help internationally trained workers in 23 trades, including electricians, plumbers and installation engineers.
McNaughton said the licensing body will still be able to apply for exemptions that may require Canadian work experience, but that would require government approval.
“They will have to make a case for health and safety, which will come to the minister for approval,” he said, adding that he expects the changes brought in by the law to take effect in two years.
The director of engineering training projects at ACCES Employment, an organization that helps freshmen find suitable jobs in Ontario, said removing the Canadian work experience requirement could help immigrant engineers become licensed and hire much faster. Will help.
Gabriella Tavaru said immigrant engineers cannot work in their profession before obtaining their professional license, regardless of how many years of experience they had before coming to Ontario.
“Junk start-up, performance appraisal, the whole system, it is new. So it is a bit difficult for any immigrant and especially for regulated professionals like engineers to navigate this process and get a job,” she said.
He noted that a maximum of four years of international experience has been recognized by the licensing body for engineers in Ontario, but a Canadian minimum of one year of work experience in this field is also required. Immigrant engineers have to work for a year under the supervision of a licensed Canadian engineer to gain that experience.
“That’s the problem: You can’t get a job to get your license,” she said. “They cannot be engineers. They cannot sign the contract. They cannot be called engineers, but they can work, for example, as estimators, project managers, field coordinators.”